Apple announced that it would close its official stores, corporate offices and contact centres in mainland China until Feb. 9 due to the coronavirus outbreak. The company stated that it was taking this action “out of an abundance of caution.”
Apple said in a statement that it based its decision on the “latest advice from leading health experts.” The move to close all its stores and offices in China comes after the company limited employee travel to China to “business critical” matters. In addition, Apple had already closed one store and reduced operating hours in others.
Meanwhile, in the Wuhan area, the city where the coronavirus was first identified, Apple had taken even more actions. It provided care kits to employees, regularly took employees’ temperatures and deep cleaned its stores and offices.
Although Apple’s physical stores will be closed, Bloomberg reports that its online store will remain open.
The coronavirus outbreak could also affect Apple’s revenues and its manufacturing facilities in China. In its first-quarter earnings report, which announced the company’s highest quarterly revenue in its history, Apple anticipated that its revenue could be affected by the coronavirus outbreak. Apple’s second-quarter revenue outlook ranges between $US63 ($94) and $US67 ($100) billion, which is wider than usual.
Apple CEO Tim Cook attributed the $US4 ($6) billion range to the uncertainty over the impact of coronavirus in Apple’s quarterly conference call on Tuesday.
In the same call, Cook said that a number of Apple’s channel partners had closed their retail stores in China, which could also affect sales.
On the manufacturing front, Apple could be affected given that it makes most of its iPhones in China. Although the manufacturing sites are not close to Wuhan, some experts say that the facilities could be impacted as coronavirus spreads.
Apple isn’t the only big tech company taking precautionary actions in China because of the health crisis. Tesla was required to shut down its new factory in Shanghai temporarily by order of the Chinese government. Google announced that it was temporarily closing its offices in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Microsoft and Facebook have told their employees in the country to work from home.
As of Saturday, there were 2,102 new cases of coronavirus reported in China in the last 24 hours, which raises the worldwide total to 11,953, according to the World Health Organisation’s Situation Report. The majority of the cases are in China, although 132 cases have been confirmed in 23 other countries. There have been 259 deaths.